Why John Fleck won't be home for Christmas

Lest anyone think that the next four years will be business as usual, I'm posting this op-ed piece my friend, performance artist/actor and NEA Four activist, John Fleck, sent off to The Cleveland Plain Dealer and The Advocate:


I grew up in Cleveland. For the last 20 years in Los Angeles, I've survived fairly well as an actor/performance artist. Always, I return home at least once a year, usually for a holiday visit to my 5 brothers & sisters and 12 nieces & nephews living in the Strongsville, Brunswick area. However, I just notified my family I won't be coming this year. It breaks my heart. But, as a gay man, Ohio has clearly disowned me. How can I call it home anymore?

What has truly poisoned Ohio for me is the passage of Issue One stating that Ohio will recognize marriage only between a man and a woman. To compound the injury, it also states that the state does not have to recognize civil unions or domestic partnerships.

The burning issue for Ohio voters was morality, not the economy, recently earning Cleveland the designation of America's poorest city. Not the dubious morality of being lied to by a born-again administration for invading a sovereign country that harbored no immediate enemy killing over a 100,000 of its citizens and 1,200 of our men & women in uniform.

Morals aren't mentioned when discussing the 46 million Americans living without health coverage or the one out of five American children living in poverty. And of course, morals are another issue when turning over national public wild spaces to Oil Companies or giving away the publics airwaves to a few corporate behemoths.

But morals are the issue when it comes to 2 gay people loving one another and wanting some recognition of their long term commitments. Given that the faith-based Republican Party now controls every branch of government, when will a woman's right to choose be next on the chopping block?

Marriage itself is not my issue. You heterosexuals have tainted that sacred concept to the point that I don‚t want it. But to deny my neighbors, a gay couple who have been together for 21 years with 3 children, even the slightest bit of dignity and legal protection of their union; to deny them a civil union contract that might enable them to get health insurance for their children or the right to see one another in the hospital if one of them falls ill is truly morally repugnant.

So I urge every gay man & woman not to return home to Ohio for the holidays. We're not wanted. Perhaps our families will call others and get the word out that some of Ohio's brightest and loveliest won't be returning home this holiday season. But make no mistake about it. We're not leaving for good. Once we get over the betrayal, we will return soon, and in force with marching boots on, because this is a fight for the soul of America. I believe gay rights is the foremost civil rights issue of this decade. Let the battle begin.

I think that a big, fat increase in activism might be the silver lining in the cloud of this painful election.

I sure as hell hope so.